English League 1

Lowe leaves MK Dons

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Fri, 21 Jun 2013 22:15:00

Brazil and Italy will face off for the honour of top spot in Group A at the Confederations Cup on Saturday night.

The two teams have already secured their place in the semi-finals of the tournaments by beating both Mexico and Japan in their previous outings, and will effectively be playing for the right to avoid the in-form world and European champions Spain in the next round.

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has problems in midfield to sort out before going into the game. Veteran playmaker Andrea Pirlo will miss the match with a muscle injury.

"We had an MRI that shows a calf strain," said Italy doctor Enrico Castellacci.

"He will not play against the Selecao and now we have to work with him ahead of the semi-finals."

Also missing will be Daniele De Rossi, who is suspended after collecting two yellow cards.

There is greater pressure on Brazil, who are playing against the backdrop of the home fans' expectations, as well as the extensive protests which have been held against the cost of hosting next year's World Cup.

With this match to be played in the capital Brasilia, scene of extensive protests in the past few days, there is the potential for further flashpoints.

However, Brazil's players are trying to focus on the pitch, and they are keeping things light-hearted.

Playmaker Oscar, 22, may not have had too much experience of facing Italy's veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon in person, but he thinks he has the Juventus man figured out.

"I've seen Buffon play since I was a kid, and I've played against him a lot on video games," he said.

"I've been lucky against him and I hope I can make this happen on the pitch."

It is understood the two clubs have finally reached agreement after several weeks of discussion and that the 25-year-old Belgium international will head for Merseyside next week to undergo a medical and discuss personal terms.

Mignolet joined the Black Cats from Sint-Truiden three summers ago for just £2million and while he has two years remaining on his contract, his departure has become inevitable since Liverpool launched a concerted bid to lure him to Anfield.

Mignolet's arrival would push the future of Liverpool's established number one Jose Reina further into the spotlight.

Speculation has widely linked the Spain international with a summer move to former club Barcelona but, with their goalkeeper Victor Valdes insistent he will see out the remaining year of his contract, there may not be an opening at the Nou Camp.

Reina yesterday said he planned to see out the three years of his contract - and possibly extend it - but did concede a move to a bigger club would be a "good opportunity''.

No approach has so far been received from the Catalans for Reina and, although there is still more than two months before the transfer window closes, Liverpool could conceivably begin the season with two high-profile goalkeepers on their books both wanting to be first choice in a World Cup year.

Manager Brendan Rodgers has said he wants competition in every position throughout his squad and with all the speculation surrounding Reina, who is currently in action at the Confederations Cup, it would have been negligent of him not to have lined up an alternative.

But it is unclear whether Rodgers wants to start next season with a situation where he has to upset either one of his most experienced - and highest earning - players - or his new signing.

A statement on the midlands club's website said N'Zogbia sustained the injury while keeping fit on holiday in Miami, has undergone surgery in the United States and will return to Birmingham next week to continue his rehabilitation.

Villa boss Paul Lambert said: "The priority is to ensure that Charles receives the very best care, and he has done and will continue to do so throughout his recovery period.

"It's a blow for Charles, obviously, but he'll get his head down and get himself fit again and he'll have plenty of support in doing so."

Roddy MacDonald, Villa's head of sport and exercise medicine, has travelled to the US to be with N'Zogbia and will accompany the 27-year-old Frenchman back to the United Kingdom.

Lowe move to stadium:mk last summer and, after a slow start to life in Milton Keynes, ended the campaign as joint-top scorer with 12 goals alongside Dean Bowditch.

Explaining the reasons for opting against another season under Karl Robinson, the 34-year-old told MK Dons' official website: "This wasn't an easy decision but it was one I felt I had to make for the benefit of my family.

"Constantly being away from my young family in Liverpool last season proved more challenging than I originally thought and I found it hard to concentrate fully on my football.

"I had a long think over the summer and after speaking with my family and Karl, I felt it would be for the best if I left.

"I really enjoyed my short, but memorable time in Milton Keynes and I wish the boys every success next season."

Boss Robinson added: "A motivated Ryan Lowe is a top forward in this league but for the reasons he stated to me earlier this week, I didn't think he'd be in the right mindset to help take this club forward.

"I'd like to wish him luck in the future and thank him for all he did last season."

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